Mike Metke

As Interviewed by Ethan S, March 13, 2018

Mike Metke: In His Own Words

This is Dr. Mike Metke, President of Tyler Junior College, talking about his time working in Costa Rica and how that changed his world view on poverty and education, along with how his book about his dog, Foxy, has helped promote reading.

My job was to help build a community ‘cause people moved from different places. So, we did community projects. We formed a town council and a school board -- and did projects. One of the first projects actually was to clear land for a soccer field. Everybody loved to play soccer. We built a school -- actually with not much, with chainsaws -- and made tablets, and that school we built in 1968. We built that school and then we’ve gone down now and helped build a new school. So, we’ve continued to go down there with the college. But when I was there we did improve the road and made a bridge together to get across the river.

Education really is more a matter of opportunity so some folks who are very, very bright and might change the world just never get a chance to get that education. Then, we went out to the schools and we realized that in the schools it’s very, very different now. There are so many people who come from poverty and never even have had a book. And so when Foxy has gone out to promote reading, and she has a little song that a friend of ours sings about teaching the world to read and about books, the kids really have fun with it. And then at the end, they each get to meet Foxy. If they want, she’ll give them a kiss and they get a book. And it’s made your grandma even cry when students have said, “Oh, is this mine? Can I take it home? Can I keep it?” And you can tell they’ve never had a book. And because reading is key to learning and education is key to everything, we’ve really tried to be reading evangelists with Foxy.